Pakistan didn't stage any memorial service on second anniversary of assassinated minority minister Shahbaz Bhatti but a Canadian group, International Christian Voice did.
Prime Minister Canada Stephen Harper took about five minutes in his speech to paying tribute to late Bhatti last month in Vaughan Ont, while announcing the Office of Religious Freedom.
Shahbaz Bhatti was killed brutally by Tehreek-e-Taliban in Islamabad two years ago, March 2011, over his concerns to Blasphemy Laws, that draconian laws has made Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmaddies lives miserable in Pakistan.
Before Shahbaz Bhatti lost his life in the hands of terrorists, a powerful governor Punjabi Salman Taseer was murdered by his body guard as the assassinated governor called that law a 'Black Law'. His assassin body guard is hailing a life of spiritual leader in Pakistani jail now.
Coincidently, Shahbaz Bhatti happened to visit Canada just few weeks before he was gunned down by Taliban in Islamabad.
Just after his visit to Ottawa, Canada's Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism issued a statement that read, "Over the past two days I have had the great honour of hosting Pakistan's brave Minister of Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti.... We expressed our sincere condolences to Minister Bhatti over the recent assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, and reiterated Canada's opposition to the abuse of blasphemy laws, as exemplified by the death sentence imposed on Asia Bibi."
Later, on arrival of Bhatti's murder news, Prime Minister Harper reacted immediately and said in a statement: "Canada stands against those who commit gutless acts of murderous violence and extremism, and calls for the Pakistani authorities to bring those responsible to justice."
In the following year 2012, Canada' Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird presented 2012 John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award to the late Shahbaz Bhatti.
The office of International Christian Voice in Canada, headed by late Shahbaz Bhatti's brother, Peter Bhatti, received the award. The same organization held a second Martyrdom anniversary of Shahbaz Bhatti last Saturday. The ceremony was attended by prominent parliamentarians, large number of Church leaders, family members, friends and representatives from all walks of life.
Due to overseas engagements of minister for citizenship and immigration, Minister Jason Kenney was not able to attend this program, however, Minister Bal Gosal read his message in which Minister Kenny emphasized that the personality of Shahbaz inspired him a lot and he was to go further in developing working relations with him.
Tim Hudak, Leader of Progressive Conservatives, paid tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti and said that leaders like Shahbaz Bhatti help to understand the reality of life.
Parm Gill, MP Brampton Springdale, reiterated that Canada would continue supporting the religious minorities and help them to gain self-respect and honor.
Senator Don Meredith shared that his meeting with Shahbaz Bhatti was one of the best moments of his life. He further stated that government will advocate for religious liberation, and rights for the marginalized.
M.P, Mississauga East - Cooksville, Wladyslaw Lizon affirmed Canada's commitment to help victims of persecution and encouraged people living in Canada to remember that not everyone has the same freedom Canadian citizens do and therefore remember those who cannot practice their basic human rights.
In the same context last month Prime Minister Harper announced the establishment of Office of Religious Freedom in Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada, where he talked about Shahbaz Bhatti and he stated, "I am privileged, in the course of my service as Prime Minister, to encounter many, extraordinary individuals and, from time to time, even among all of these extraordinary people, someone is exceptional... one such person I met in my office on Parliament Hill in 2011, he was the Minister of Minorities of Pakistan, Shahbaz Bhatti. He worked tirelessly to defend the vulnerable not only his fellow Christians, but also Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadi Muslims, and all other minorities. He did so knowing that it placed him under a constant and imminent threat to his life. He was an honourable and humble man."
Shahbaz Bhatti's brother, Peter Bhatti, a Canadian and Chairman International Christian Voice said in the event that Pakistan cannot continue with extremism, religious bigotry and hatred.
Pakistan Consul General in Toronto, Mohammad Nafees Zakaria also attended the meeting and said that he was a good friend of Shahbaz Bhatti but on behalf of his government he couldn't offer any assurance of eliminating Blasphemy Laws from Pakistan's constitution or atleast could grant an assurance of equal rights to the bewildered minorities there.
Tahir Gora is Director Canadian Thinkers' Forum. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TahirGora